MANILA, Philippines -- Dindin Santiago-Manabat is not sweating Akari's loss to Choco Mucho in their first game of the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, instead expressing confidence that the Chargers can reach their potential.
Akari fell in straight sets to Choco Mucho on Saturday, 15-25, 20-25, 20-25. Santiago-Manabat put up 17 points in the loss, in what was her first game for the franchise after a blockbuster move from Chery Tiggo in the offseason.
"Nasa stage pa ako na parang nasha-shock pa," Santiago-Manabat said after the game. "Sobrang iba 'yung pakiramdam. Kasi 'yun nga, first game tapos natalo. Pero looking forward ako na magawa pa namin 'yung best namin."
Choco Mucho won comfortably in the opening set but the Chargers gave them a tougher challenge in the next two frames. Unfortunately for Akari, they ran out of steam in the end game both times, while the Flying Titans got big contributions from the likes of Kat Tolentino and Maddie Madayag.
Still, Santiago-Manabat is pleased at the fight that her new team displayed, especially after such a slow start.
"Sobrang laki ng potential ng mga bata na kasama ko. And nakikita ko 'yun, kasi every training naman, talagang nagpu-push sila," she said.
Aside from Santiago-Manabat, Janine Marciano was the lone Akari player in double-digits with 12, though they got a lift from Trisha Genesis off the bench and Jho Maraguinot and Ezra Madrigal had their moments.
Santiago-Manabat believes that given more time, the Chargers should be able to perform better and display improved chemistry -- and that this will hopefully lead to on-court success.
"Ilang weeks pa lang 'yung binigay namin, ilang weeks pa lang kami nag-sama-sama, ganito na 'yung nilalaro namin. What if mabigyan pa kami ng pagkakataon na ilang months pa, ilang years pa, na kami 'yung magkakasama?" she said.
"For sure, 'yung potential ng mga bata, potential ng mga bagong pasok, 'pag nabuo is good 'yung magiging path namin. Magiging maganda 'yung kakalabasan ng liga na sasalihan namin," she added.
On a personal level, Santiago-Manabat said she is thrilled with her situation in Akari. The veteran opposite spiker had left Chery Tiggo in December 2022, after a six-year stay with the franchise.
"Sobrang saya ko," said Santiago-Manabat. "Lagi ko namang sinasabi na gusto ko mag-explore, gusto ko matuto pa."
"Kasi siyempre, hindi naman porke't tinatawag na kaming beterano is parang, 'yun na kami eh. Siyempre ako, dito, sobrang saya ko. Kasi parang every time na nagte-training kami, marami pa akong natututunan, and 'yung pasensiya ko, humahaba pa. So happy ako," she added.